Dark Horizon 2019 Review
The creators, producers, and directors of one of the most terrifying haunts in the world, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor introduce the first West Coast-style haunt in the East – Dark Horizon!
Dark Horizon emerges in Orlando with much anticipation, to feast upon your fears, fray your nerves, and curdle your blood. Escape the clutches of one of Florida’s most infamous serial killer’s, Bloody Ed Watson. Navigate Captain Killigrew’s ship and her deviously mad crew, and wade past the Vodou Priestess before she has a chance to evoke the otherwordly spirits to possess your body and steal your soul. Hundreds of heinous monsters await to drag you toward the event horizon. Thrill-seekers will revel in 16 nights of terror featuring three gruesome haunted houses, immersive bars, festive fare, death-defying entertainment and more! Brought to you by some of the most celebrated minds in the industry, don’t miss Dark Horizon, the Halloween event of the season.
Last week I was fortunate enough, thanks to Gabe, to be attend the opening day of Dark Horizon Point Of No Return. Which if you’re not familiar, is a pop up horror themed event, much in the vein of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, and likewise Knott’s Scary Farm at Knotts Berry Farm. The difference here is this event is a pop up and is not a permanent fixture in an existing theme park.
It actually takes place in a legendary part of Orlando, the former site of the Nickelodeon hotel, and the current site of the Holiday Inn Resort. It is very similar to how Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is done out in Long Beach on the West Coast. In fact, the creative minds behind Dark Harbor are the creative force behind Dark Horizon!
The evening started with media being invited to an open bar where they brought out some scare actors and had them mingle with us during cocktail hour. They walked the red carpet, and were in full character. It was honestly really cool. They also gave us a coin with zero explanation as to why, but we will get to that a little later.
We were then led into the event where we were free to roam around the event as desired. The scare actors around the entire event were some of the best in the business. They were relentless, and even scared Holly when she was tying her shoe. No mercy. The scare zones weren’t as structured with specific themes or characters, but that made it even more unsettling. They all seemed to be inhabitants of Dark Horizon, just one large cohesive idea. From my understanding, this is one idea that has translated well from California to Orlando. Having top notch talent roaming the event to entertain and scare guests during their entire visit.
Dark Horizon has three houses with very distinct themes. Vodou, a voodoo and New Orleans themed maze. Ghostship, which should be self explanatory, but is themed to a….ghost ship. And last but certainly not least, Murder House. All three sound fairly “normal” but they certainly were not. One distinct feature of this event that we don’t see at places like Horror Nights is that the houses go both inside and outside as you walk through.
The first house we did that evening was Vodou and I will say we did this while it was still daylight out. Scares start from the moment you go under the sign with all three of the houses, a scare actor startles you and welcomes you in. For this particular house it was a women who had conjured up a few spirits using Voodoo when things took a turn for the worst. As you walk through you come across various dead folks from all different eras and walks of life. You’d walk through a fish market and then suddenly you were in someone’s home and then back outside in a garden.
Next up we did Murder House, this was Holly’s favorite house of the three. As you enter you walk into a façade of a general store with a woman and her husband behind the counter warning you not to walk any further. As you continue on you “exit” the general store into an open air farm with various workers covered in blood asking why you’d come to such a place. The most detailed scene of this house as also the most startling…you walked into a room with various body parts hanging and a woman screaming. As you turn the corner there’s a women in a bath tub that appears to be covered with blood and another scare actor over her wielding a knife threatening you to move along or you’ll be next!
The pirate house stands out the most to me personally as this was by far the most interactive of the three. On our second walk through there were prisoners out of the cells whom we asked how they got out. Their response was to handcuff us and pull us into the cells with them, I LOVED how they interacted to this extent with Guests. And there was a hidden bar inside of the ship! This is where that coin came in handy. If you asked the right pirate or found the X that marked the spot, you were then led into a secret bar. It took us going through the house twice to eventually find the bar, but the first time we were just enjoying the house. Speaking of which the pirates house ends with you “walking the plank” and going down a slide, which was a ton of fun. I have heard they have stopped this ending, and have not heard why.
If you’ve had enough screaming while trying to escape blood thirsty pirates or a Voodoo Priestess, then you can check out the other entertainment offerings Dark Horizon has to offer. Much like Dark Harbor, Dark Horizon has employees some truly breath taking artists to take the stage during the event. You can catch Ariel artists on the SIREN STAGE or you can see fire dancers on the SACRED CIRCLE STAGE! Having this type of entertainment really helps bring the event to life.
If you need a chance to sit down, but NOT relax; you can also see the Panic 4D Experience. This is the same show as Dark Harbor out in California. Keep in mind, this is a $5 up charge.
Dark Horizon is a different kind of beast in the realm of Haunted Attractions in Orlando. In many ways, it has its work cut out for it since there are so many more established and well known events around. Dark Horizon decided to be unique in its approach and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. The whole event really felt like a party with monsters added in. Although there was plenty of fun to be had with the fantastic entertainment, secret bars and wonderful monster interactions; there seemed to be a severe lack in scares. This was night one of many nights to come and I know that it takes time to get a handle on timing. Let alone the fact that it was night one of a BRAND NEW EVENT! With that being said, I’m excited to see how the monsters hone in their skills and timing to really create a much more terrifying experience.
The potential is there! Check out my adventures at Dark Horizon by clicking the video below.
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